Airborne Software Certification

Many modern aircraft’s functionalities are software-enabled, making software a critical part of developing and certifying commercial passenger aircraft. That led to the evolution of a set of standards which regulates the process of software development through describing a set of objectives and activities to be conducted by the developers and certification applicants, hence the name descriptive standards.

Current best practices in airborne software development cannot cope with the exponential growth in size and interaction complexity of software as an increasing number of functions are becoming software-enabled. In addition, it cannot meet the certification requirements of types of software systems and new emergent avionics domains. Intending to make system development, verification, and eventually certification more flexible and efficient while maintaining the currently successful emphasis on safety, the FAA Launched the “Streamlining Assurance Processes Workshop”. Certification streamlining is abstracting the certification process to allow alternative approaches that promote reusable and performance-based evaluation processes of the product while still retaining a guaranteed level of safety.

An important part of today’s development workflow is the use of software tools. Thus, we consider tool qualification a vital part of the development process. In addition, it is a representative process of the actual development itself. Our proposed approaches will focus on tool qualification, as streamlining the tool qualification contributes to reducing the certification effort significantly. Based on that, we can propose a generalisation in future works.

Research Focus

In an effort to streamline the Tool Qualification process as part of the software development life cycle are investigating non-descriptive approaches to certification. One promised principle is a feature-based approach, in which the certification applicant documents evidence that the target product meets a certain and well-defined set of features, and compiles them in a structured argument, known as safety case.

To this endeavour, we are investigating the airworthiness principles behind the current standards like RTCA DO-178C/ED-12C "Software Considerations in Airborne Systems and Equipment Certification" and ARP4754A "Guidelines for Development of Civil Aircraft and Systems". That will help framing a new approach to certification that is both streamlined and open to new and innovative methods and arguments.

  1. Ibrahim, Mohamad and Umut Durak. “State of the Art in Software Tool Qualification with DO-330: A Survey.” Software Engineering (2021). Link (
  2. M. Ibrahim and U. Durak, "Streamlining the Airborne Systems Certification," 2021 IEEE/AIAA 40th Digital Avionics Systems Conference (DASC). Link (
  3. Ibrahim, Mohamad, et al. "Chasing the Rainbow: Streamlined Tool Qualification." AIAA SCITECH 2023 Forum. 2023. Link (
  4. Dmitriev, Konstantin, Fateh Kaakai, Mohamad Ibrahim, Umut Durak, Bill Potter, and Florian Holzapfel. "Tool Qualification Aspects in ML-Based Airborne Systems Development." In Software Engineering 2023 Workshops. Link (
  5. Ibrahim, Mohamad, Umut Durak, and Haseeb Tariq. "Extending Behaviour-Driven Development of Avionic Systems to Flight Simulators." Software Engineering 2022 Workshops. Gesellschaft für Informatik eV, 2022. Link (
  6. Ibrahim, Mohamad, and Umut Durak. "Qualification Considerations for Simulations in Avionics Software Engineering." Tagungsband (2021): 23. Link (